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MIT Ranks First in Engineering

By Maria Wang

STAFF REPORTER

MIT received top rankings in U.S. News and World Report’s annual graduate school survey.

For the 13th straight year, MIT’s School of Engineering was ranked first.

“It’s wonderful seeing our educational research program acknowledged that way,” said Dean of the School of Engineering Thomas L. Magnanti.

Magnanti said that three major elements distinguished the MIT engineering program. “First of all, the students and faculty. Secondly, MIT is an icon for engineering. Thirdly, the accomplishments of research and educational innovations.”

“We’re currently working with the Council on Educational Technology and I-Campus, which is a partnership with Microsoft to develop informational technologies that improve higher education,” Magnanti added.

Some question value of rankings

Although administrators and department heads were pleased with MIT’s high assessments, most of them agreed that the rankings have their limitations.

“There’s not a gigantic difference between 4.9 and 5.0,” said Head of the Department of Economics Olivier J. Blanchard PhD ’77. Blanchard was referring to the scale for average reputation score, in which 5.0 was the highest ranking.

Head of the Department of Mathematics David A. Vogan PhD ’76, went further, saying, “I don’t really have a high opinion of polls; they’re just a popularity contest and hard to take very seriously.” Vogan added that “the rankings reflect broadly what is correct and help students understand which five or ten schools are among the strongest.”

Department rankings stay high

Individual departments also earned high rankings. The electrical engineering and computer science department and the mathematics department were both ranked number one in their respective disciplines.

“Starting around the 1950s, some individuals understood they could take advantage of the position of MIT as a wonderful center for engineering, a center for mathematical research with wonderful mathematicians,” Vogan said.

MIT’s Sloan School of Management ranked fifth, down one place from last year. The top business schools in descending order were Stanford, Harvard, Northwestern (Kellogg), and the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton).

“There’s always movement up or down one or two places,” said Executive Director of the MBA Program Margaret C. Andrews SM ’92. “The importance is that we’re ranked in the top five.”

Deputy Dean of the Sloan School of Management Gabriel R. Bitran PhD ’75 agreed, saying, “We have been ranked in those ranges before ... we’re continuously good, continuously improving.”

Specialty programs also ranked high

Most programs within the School of Engineering retained their high rankings. Chemical Engineering, Aeronautics and Astronautics, Electrical Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Nuclear Engineering were again ranked first.

MIT also remained first in the specialty science fields of inorganic chemistry, atomic and molecular physics, nuclear physics, computer science hardware, computer science artificial intelligence, and geological tectonics.

In the Sloan School of Management, MIT again topped the list in management information systems, production/operations management, and quantitative analysis.

The specialties within economics experienced the greatest shifts in rankings. Microeconomics moved up to first from second place, whereas international economics fell from first to third. The economics department as a whole ranked first, no longer tied at first with Harvard and Stanford.

Blanchard said the rankings “reflect the fact that we try very hard to have a good program.”

“It’s a collegial department, both among students and faculty,” Blanchard added. “We talk about research with each other and make progress together. It’s intellectual fun.”

The rankings were based on criteria including reputation, student selectivity, faculty resources, and research activity. Surveys were sent to thousands of academics and professionals in the fall of 2000 for evaluation of programs in business, education, engineering, law, and medicine. Rankings for the sciences were determined in 1999.